Saturday, 1 August 2009

The Small Skipper

The countryside surrounding the Tarset Burn, if measured by memorable wildlife experiences, is now a firm favourite on my list of local places to visit. Last week's badger sighting must top the list but every visit has its own highlights with many first-timers for me or my camera.

A short walk at Sidwood on Thursday afternoon provided a glimpse of a tiny copper-coloured butterfly. Further views followed until, as my awareness of their jizz grew, they appeared be be all around me and I knew I was looking at Small Skippers.

Northumberland is largely coloured-in on their distribution map, although I understand that this northern expansion of their range has only taken place in recent years. Being small and flittish, they were quite a challenge to photograph but their settling on Common Knapweeds to feed made the job a little easier.

Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris)

The typical Skipper posture with forewings swept back and hindwings held flat. Here, the proboscis is extended into the flower head.

I think this is a male, showing a more conspicuous sex band on the forewing, and the first two pictures above are of a female.

Other sightings included Painted Lady, Green-veined White, Ringlet and Meadow Brown butterflies.


Anonymous said...

Lovely images Emma.

holdingmoments said...

Beautiful shots Emma.
They are dainty little things aren't they.

Greenfingers said...

Small skippers are super little butterflies. I can still remember the excitement when they were first found in my local nature reserve at Witton-le-Wear in Durham, about 25 years's wonderful to see how well they expanded their range northwards, along with speckled woods, ringlets and commas, which were all either extinct in Durham when we first came here 35 years ago. There's always plenty of wildlife bad news about, but the range expansion of these species is a reason to be cheerful!